One little word. Present. It’s meanings are varied, but I’ve selected a particular few that match my purpose for choosing it. Now existing or in progress; not past or future; being at a certain place and not elsewhere (Merriam-Webster.com). In teaching, it is difficult not to live in the future. Planning lessons, preparing materials, reflecting on the past to improve future results, worrying about yet-to-be-met curricular outcomes within the time constraints of the year; and, indeed, we are working for our future: the children. But when you’re constantly living in the future, you risk missing the present. And so, this is the word that I’m choosing to live by for 2017. Present.
So often in the classroom I try to be present and focus on one student at a time. As a student shares his thoughts, wonders, worries, and ideas, I owe it to him to devote my entire attention to this moment. That’s how important time with my students is. However, distracting thoughts creep into my mind, even during these times of utter importance. “What’s next on our schedule?” “Is everyone else on task?” “Am I giving the right advice?” “Am I challenging him appropriately?” “Did I remember to bring all the materials for today’s science activity?” “I needed to do something important at recess… What was it?”
My attention is fractured by a dozen different tugging needs, which results in a fractured experience with the student in front of me. My students deserve my full presence.
I wonder about being present at meetings and workshops and professional development sessions. When it’s time to circle the tables and share something, am I being present when I rehearse what I’m going to say when it’s my turn instead of actively listening to others as they take time to share their own thoughts?
Present. I owe it to myself, my students, and indeed my family to be present this year.